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HORN AND WHISTLE

H&W Converting to an Essentially On-Line Publication

Why is H&W Becoming an ON-LINE Publication?


I have taken a detailed look at H&W and considered carefully the merits and disadvantages of the paper hardcopies vs. the on-line edition. For a while now, as publisher, I have had to put in some money each issue out of pocket to subsidize the printing and mailing because I have been reluctant to raise the subscription price, but I cannot continue to do this. I am now 73, and while I still am very active, feel good, and am, as far as I can tell, as mentally sharp as I ever was, at the same time, I would like to, as we say in the power plant industry, "shed a little load," or slightly limit the time I spend doing have-to stuff as opposed to like-to activities. If you have never had any involvement in the production side of a niche hobby publication such as H&W, you will not have any idea of just how much work and time are required to produce such a publication. Because it is such a specialized field of interest, compared to many publications, H&W is a small publication with less than 350 active subscribers at the present time. The high-production and very low cost-per-copy printing methods that are feasible for much larger publications are not practical for H&W.

Regarding distribution, I tried bulk-mailing but I had so many issues with damaged, missing, or seriously delayed magazines, or magazines that showed obvious signs of having been read by others before they even arrived at the legitimate, paying subscribers' mailboxes, that I decided to swap to more expensive and labor-intensive first class mailing in sealed envelopes.

About that same time, I decided to produce an on-line version that subscribers could download and finally got the necessary software to make compressed PDF issues which subscribers could download and then read on their computers. The PDF format is good because it works on PCs, Macs, Tablets and Cell Phones. Almost immediately, I saw some very significant advantages to both subscribers, and also to me as publisher. For one thing, expenses were significantly lower. There were no paper envelopes and no need at all for the post office. Likewise, there was no printing; no stuffing of envelopes, and best of all, very timely delivery of the completed issues. If H&W were a bigger publication, I'd have printing done by a large firm that used offset printing and machines that automatically stuff and seal the envelopes and apply postage, but on the shoestring budget that H&W operates with and the small number of actual magazines to produce, those options are not possible.

Although it doesn't seem possible, H&W is now 35 years old. Conditions and times are very different now in 2017 from the way they were in 1982, and in all instances, if something is to continue on, whatever that something may be, it must go with the prevailing trends in order to survive. On-line publishing is still relatively new, but it has been around now to an ever increasing degree for at least 15 years, and the change from printing on paper to on-line publication is here to stay and it is increasing with each year. Survival of any business entity is dependent on producing as much as you can for as little expense as possible. Even though in the greater scheme of things, H&W is an extremely small publication, it needs to be just as aware of the current information publishing trends as huge, nationally syndicated magazines. On-line publishing, especially for tiny publications such as H&W is our means of survival. It is not so much that we want to publish on-line but that, as time continues on, we have to publish on-line.

For the subscribers, there are lots of benefits as well. First, it costs a lot less to produce H&W as an on-line publication so I can pass substantial savings to on-line subscribers. Timely delivery is the biggest plus of all. When a new issue is ready to go, in less than an hour, the on-line subscribers have the e-mails with the links and password to the newest issues in their e-mail boxes. A lot of the illustrations in H&W look really nice in color. To keep expenses down with the paper publications, I have to stay with black & white photos. On line, that is not a consideration, so if a photo that I receive is in color, it will likewise be in color in the on-line issue. Another big plus is the inclusion of extra content. When I exceed 44 pages in the printed publications, the printing and mailing costs go up considerably. But on-line magazines can be bigger if I have extra material to include and there is no extra fee for either production or for distribution.

Another cost reduction with on-line is replacing missing issues. It seems that in every issue of paper copies that I mail, there are always a few that are missing. In that case, I must replace those at my expense. If a subscriber doesn't get an on-line issue, it is usually because the person has either changed his e-mail address without letting us at H&W know, or perhaps the subscriber made a mistake in the download process, or (as has happened in a couple of instances) the customer accidentally deleted his copy of the new issue. Replacing a missing on-line issue involves only a little time, but no expense. Also I can include links to other related web pages or articles, or to videos and sound clips; both of which are impossible with paper publication.

So as you can see from reading the above, there are benefits for both of us. You as a subscriber get a superior product, on time, at a much lower cost. If you don't for some reason get it, I'll replace it or help you with the download process, and you also get links to other related material including videos and sound clips. For me, I drop a lot of expenses, and best of all as I get older, I considerably lighten my workload. I can spend more time on producing and procuring superior content instead of on drugery work like printing mailing labels, stuffing envelopes and applying postage.

Pro-rating Subscriptions. Because the cost of an on-line subscription is much less than that of a paper hardcopy, I will extend the duration of your new on-line subscription to match the amount you have previously paid. For example, if you purchased a three year subscription to the paper version of the magazine for $75.00, then I would extend the length of your subscription to seven and one-half years, because the on-line version is $10.00 per year (or four issues) so that you will get all the issues that you paid for.

"But I like to read H&W with my morning coffee," "I like to sit in my favorite chair and read it by the fire," "I like to read in bed before I fall asleep," etc. These are some of the reasons that I have heard why some people do not want an on-line version instead of a paper hardcopy. And this is true if you have a PC. However, with a laptop or a tablet, you can read it conveniently in any location almost the same as a paper copy. And in spite of H&W being a copyrighted publication, I strongly encourage you to print a paper copy for your own use if you want it on paper, and I also encourage and suggest that you put each issue on a CD or on a flash drive so that you will have a permanent copy for future use.

Limited paper copies. I am not entirely eliminating all paper copies. I'll make the following exceptions: if you live in an area where dial-up Internet is your only method of getting on line, I'll keep sending you paper copies at $25.00 per year (for now) in the USA or $30.00 per year all other countries. If you are older and have never obtained (or even used) a PC or a Mac, you'll keep getting paper copies at that same price. Likewise, if you belong to a religious group (Amish, for example) that shuns the use of electrical devices, I'll keep sending you paper copies as well and at the same price as I have been doing. Also, for those of you who have purchased the deluxe paper version, I will maintain that also. But, [and I apologize in advance for possibly seeming arbitrary] if you have a computer and know how to use it and live in an area with hi-speed Internet and just WANT a paper copy for the sake of wanting paper, that is no longer a reason for getting paper copies unless you absolutely have to have paper no matter what. Then in that case, I'll provide you with a special paper copy at $25.00 per copy. At that price, I would make enough profit on the paper magazine to help offset the costs for producing paper copies for people who are truly unable to get the online copies for the reasons cited above. But keep in mind that H&W is $10.00 for four issues if you get it on line, but if you just want a paper copy for the sake of getting a paper copy, it will become $25.00 per single copy (or $100 per year.) Yes I admit, this pricing is based on the idea of encouraging you to get the on-line issues, and also of helping to cover the costs of printing a limited amount of paper copies for those who, for the reasons above, ar unable to get the on-line issues.

So how do I get H&W on line? How does this work? Every quarter when the newest issue is ready, you will get an e-mail sent to your preferred E-mail address. In this e-mail is the URL or the web address of the newest issue and its associated password, and also the expiration issue number of your subscription. For this reason, having your current e-mail address on file is essential. In most cases, depending on your computer, browser, ISP, etc. you click on the link I send and you will immediately get the new issue notice along with the request for the password. Type in (or edit/copy/paste) the password, and the new issue should download and be ready to read in about 10 seconds or so (exact time depends on the speed of your Internet and also the computer). Save the password, it is a part of the PDF file and as such stays with it. In some instances the PDF will not download with a standard left-click on the link. If this happens, you will need to right-click your mouse instead. After you right-click, then you will get a message box with several choices. Choose "Save link as..." or "save target as..." and click whichever you see. The current magazine PDF will then download to your machine.

Glitches and Hiccups. It seems that whenever changes like the above are instituted, it never goes quite as smoothly as we would like. [You know, the old saying, the best laid plans of mice and men, etc.] So it is possible that you might miss an issue or not get the e-mail notification. I expect a few minor difficulties like that, but fortunately it's very easily fixed. All you have to do is e-mail me if you haven't received download information for your new or continuing e-zine subscription so that I am aware of the difficulty and then I can fix it. But you have to let me know. Don't just get mad and say "That &#$$% Eric did not send me my new magazine." Let me know, and I'll make sure that you get it and successfully download it. Here's my e-mail at Horn & Whistle once again.

eric@hornandwhistle.com

If you have a land line phone number for me, don't use it. I am discontinuing that. Use the E-mail. If personal discussion is necessary, I'll call you from my cell phone but e-mail is better. Likewise, I am planning to get rid of the older e-mail address that I had which is hornwhistlepub@aol.com. (This still works, but as soon as I know that everybody has and uses eric@hornandwhistle.com, that's going away too.) The specific e-mail at the magazine is by far the better way to get me, and I now check that several times per day.

eric@hornandwhistle.com

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